Presenter of the National Book Awards

The Book That Changed My Life

Tracy Kidder

Tracy Kidder won The 1982 National Book Award for General Nonfiction for his book The Soul of a New Machine.

Tracy Kidder photo courtesy of University of Alaska Anchorage University, Department of Creative Writing & Literary Arts Website.

It is impossible to list all the books that have impressed me over nearly forty years of reading, never mind the various admirable books that my mother read to me. But here, off the top of my head, are some: The Collected Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, Moby Dick, E.M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel, The Tempest, George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson, Great Expectations, A.J. Liebling's collected writings and also Joseph Mitchell's, Suetonius's The Twelve Caesars, Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King...One book that certainly changed my life is Stuart Dybek's first collection of short stories, Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. I read many of the stories in manuscript twenty-five years ago, when I was a student along with Mr. Dybek at The Iowa Writers Workshop. The fact that a contemporary was writing such powerful, distinctive fiction was both encouraging and daunting. Mr. Dybek's stories made me want to go on writing and to find my own path.

Best wishes,

Tracy Kidder